I’m back to give the people what they want: me talking about racing games! Yeah, I’m as shocked as you that these are as well-liked as they are; I was expecting a bunch of nerds pushing up their glasses and asking me how the latest “Sportsball” went after the first post. Anyways, this game in particular is big enough that it gets its own post, rather than as part of an ADHD-like post where I write a bunch of shit down. Let’s take a look at R: Racing Evolution.
As you no doubt already gathered by the title screen, R: Racing Evolution is a Namco racer. Designed to be a more realistic take on the Ridge Racer series. So no drifting on every turn and making sweet jumps on anything that isn’t a Rally car. Real world sponsors. Real world cars. Honda and Ford replace Assoluto and Age Solo. Think of it as Namco’s take on Gran Turismo. Namco’s take on Gran Turismo, but now asking one very important question:
What if Gran Turismo was horny?
Like, really horny?
Also: what if it was kind of gay and riddled with the kind of lesbian tension people who like Stephen Universe lose their shit over?
Well, that’s R: Racing Evolution.
Okay, so the titties are big and the main characters are primed for their own Archive Of Our Own category. What about the rest of the game? Does it own? Is it sick? The answer to that is yeah, dude.
Like I said, this is a realistic sim, unlike Ridge Racer’s off-the-wall, drift every corner style of driving. The courses can be tough; good lord can the courses be tough. The game doesn’t hold your hand, either: know how to drive going in, or get the fuck out. Hmm, okay, maybe it doesn’t demand that level of perfection out of you, but neither will it take it easy on you.
Something that’s pretty cool about R is that there’s more to it than Stock car racing. You get Rally racing, Classic Car (Privateer) racing, Prototype challenges, and even Drag racing. A lot of variety that’s good for taking someone like me, only really familiar with one type of auto sport, and turning me on (lol) to a whole host of other methods of making car go fast vroom vroom. I might want to consider looking up some Rally races on YouTube later. And the reason why that’s cool is that one of the reasons (I’ll get to the other one later) it took me nearly 34 years to appreciate, let alone enjoy, racing was because it looked so boring. All left turns for about a million laps. Between playing this game and sitting down to watch the 2020 Indy 500, I can easily understand why racing on a ring can be exciting to someone the same way watching a race on a varied track with lots of hard turns is for me. There’s a lot of strategy that goes into it: intentionally driving slower than normal, not breaking out of the pack, so as to stay within the slipstream of other cars around you, allowing you to speed right the fuck up as the race gets closer to the end. That’s pretty cool.
That’s the mechanical side. R:RE is a fun ass racer that feels good to play. But what makes it memorable and makes it stand out amongst the other racing games of the era is its story mode. It’s fucking great. The game suddenly goes all “sports manga” on you, and focuses less on realism, and more on the drama on and off the track.
The main character is an EMT with big titties who gets recruited to a racing team after taking one of their drivers to the hospital via sick racing moves. I’ll spare you all a big synopsis, but know that it involves all of the different racing modes and competing for championships. Along the way, shit gets all fucked up. Like fuck dude, there’s implications that your team is owned by the mob, and that people who try to leave don’t do so alive. But much like the game itself, I will have to drop this plot point after one sentence. Kind of a big problem here: a lot of stuff is not resolved. Whether there was a rush put on the game, or if there were plans to expand on the story in a sequel that never came, I don’t know. But it’s a shame you only get glimpses or the really out-there elements.
The parts of R’s story that stick with you are the in-game radio conversations. It goes above and beyond the standard team radio you hear in real racing. Now, you have the pit crew having full conversations in your ear. You can hear your opponents talk shit about you, or conversely, freak the fuck out as you start to overtake them. Everything feels more competitive, even more personal at times, as a result.
Maybe I’m just a sucker for this sort of thing, but I love it. The whole thing comes across as an extension of what Ridge Racer 4 was trying in its Grand Prix mode.
Actually, hold on. Is it cool if I go way the fuck off-topic and talk about how sick Ridge Racer 4 is for a moment? It’ll all tie back into this piece about R: Resident Evil.
R4 was the first racing game I played for any real length of time. I was in middle school at the time, didn’t care much for cars, but I was a young mark and easily susceptible to hype for upcoming Playstation games. I had a shit time around cars as a kid. Growing up with alcoholics driving you everywhere while drunk. Trying to learn how to drive when you’re older as they scream at you for going 26 in a 25. The closest thing to a racing fan club is the derelict house across the street where White Trash drink cheap beer and get into fist fights. I did not like vehicles. They were loud, they broke all the time, and I went about 18 years never having a single good experience inside of one (before someone makes a joke about virginity and teenage sex, I didn’t fuck in cars. I fucked in strangers bedrooms at parties thrown by rich kids that I knew from school). I mentioned before that I’m still prone to anxiety attacks behind the wheel. Well, now you know why. But Ridge Racer 4, in its infinitely cool, stylish way, showed me that there was another side to cars. That they could be fun, that they could be part of the most interesting sport in the world. I liked the game a lot, but ultimately, I filed it away as “video games are video games, and real life is a shitshow where everyone yells way too much.” And besides, racing is just cheap redneck shit where you load up on Bud Lite, make out with your sister at the track, and get home in time for your klan rally, right? In my mid-30s, I’m regretting all the time I spent ignoring the sport, but you can understand my thought process.
Anyways. While working on my own game development, I’ve been rolling around the idea of a racing game in my head. Influenced by R4’s story mode, I wanted to make something that could appeal to someone in my position: a game about cars for someone who has bad experiences with them. More dialogue during races, rivalries played out during and between races, all types of cool shit like that. Then I played R: Racing Evolution, and realized Namco themselves beat me to the punch 17 years ago.
This is what I wanted out of a racing game, and I got it. A game that could make a non-fan understand why someone would love the sport so much. Something to help you visualize the beauty of the track, and the skill that the drivers navigate it with. Which is why I’m giving my highest possible recommendation for you to play it; it runs really fucking well in Dolphin. The game owns bones. And it has big titties in it, and really, who can hate that?